Phoebe came with me to the supermarket.  As we usually did, she sat in the food cart near the push bar and I pushed us from aisle to aisle, picking out items on our list.   This was one of our cherished tasks when she and her brother Donny spent the day at the grand parents’ home.  I looked forward to these opportunities to explain the many things that Phoebe asked me about.

Phoebe:  “Grandpa?”

Me:  “What do you need, hon?”

Phoebe:  “I need an iPad like Grandma’s.”

In silence, I pretended to focus on our shopping list, hoping the 5-year-old’s attention span would let the request lapse quickly.

Phoebe:  “I really, really need an iPad, pleeeease.”

Me:  “But you have a Wii and you’re good on Guitar Hero and the other games.”

Phoebe:  “Grandma’s iPad has better games.”

Me:  “Which games does she have?”

Phoebe:  “Angry Birds and Water and she lets me download other ones.”

Me:  “Grandma said she’d help you use Khan Academy.”

Phoebe:  “Grandma says her games help me learn.”

In silence, I recall that Mossberg said to wait until fall to buy any laptop or PC since by then Windows 8 will be out and new PC’s will have touch screen technology.  PCs are better bang for the buck; faster, more storage, and more durable – a compelling argument.   But, on second thought, do I really want Phoebe exposed to the malware and privacy loss typical on Internet Explorer?  I’m left without a better idea, but I avoid mentioning a laptop or desktop anyway.

Phoebe:  “I can read some of the games.”

Me:  “Well, iPads might break easily.”

Phoebe:  “I play with Grandma’s iPad when I sit in her big comfy chair.  I don’t take it outside.”

Me:  “Yeah, but all the really cool kids want cellphones – not those iPads.”

Phoebe:  “Nuh-uh, no one of my friends has a cell phone.”

More silence, while I pick up grocery items pretending to be focused, but really just lacking argument ideas except for the outrageous cost of iPads.

Phoebe:  “Donny says old people don’t understand iPads.”

Me:  “Oh hey – look over there, the checkout line is really short.   Here’s our list – check that everything on it is in our basket.”

Phoebe:  “If I got an iPad, I could teach you how to use it.”

Alan Daley is a retired businessman living in Colorado following public policy from the consumer’s perspective and learning to not underestimate grandchildren.